Jayme Closs: Hunt for 13-year-old after parents murdered

Pauline Gross
October 18, 2018

Authorities have been searching for 13-year-old Jayme Closs since deputies responding to a 911 call early Monday found her parents, James and Denise Closs, dead in their home in Barron, a rural western Wisconsin community about 80 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

He said gunshots had been fired at the home, but he declined to say whether the couple had been shot and said his office won't disclose how they died until after the autopsies are completed.

Fitzgerald said investigators still have a "100 percent expectation that she's alive", but that even though they've received more than 400 tips, none have been of a credible sighting.

A girl resembling Jayme was spotted at a gas station in south Florida on Monday afternoon, according to a tip Miami police say they received.

Barron Area School District Superintendent Diane Tremblay described Jayme as "a sweet, quiet girl who is a loyal friend and loves to dance".

Furthermore, investigators believe Closs was present at the time of their deaths, and believe that she is still in danger. "We are also hopeful for the safe return of their daughter, Jayme, and are keeping her and the Closs family in our thoughts".

Police issued an Amber Alert for the girl on Monday afternoon after discovering the bodies of her parents earlier that day.

Ed Downing Sr., who was identified as a family member, said on the "Today" show that he hopes authorities can bring Jayme home safely.

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The national search for Jayme Closs is getting added attention thanks to a Barron native in the spotlight for another reason.

"Was this a random attack or a targeted attack?" She vanished from her parents' home moments after they were shot to death.

He said no gun was found at the scene. "I don't know that answer", the sheriff said during the news conference. "When a child like Jayme is missing, we ask you to observe this behavior and report it to us".

Authorities have not released details about the deaths - including how the parents were killed or how long they had been dead. "It's just the stuff of nightmares", said Rachel Svendsen, a baker's assistant at the bakery in town.

"She was just a simple little small-town girl with a lot of big dreams, I think. We have no credible information about the Miami incident", Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Tuesday afternoon.

While 82 percent of the Amber Alerts issued a year ago identified a auto and 50 percent had specific license plate numbers, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, Closs' case offers neither of those clues.

Investigators don't have any leads or suspects, but they have enlisted the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has agents who specialize in missing children cases, the sheriff said.

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